The Brazilian Buck is an easy-drinking, three ingredient cocktail that’s almost as refreshing as the classic cachaça cocktail – the Caipirinha. If you’re new to Brazil’s national spirit, or just looking for a new way to enjoy it (that doesn’t require any fancy ingredients), you’re in the right place!
What is a Buck cocktail?
Buck cocktails are a family of drinks that includes the Moscow Mule, the Gin Buck, and the Whiskey Buck, also sometimes called the Montana Mule or even just Jim & Ginger.
Also included in this category would be the Rum Buck (Dark ‘n Stormy). While the exact origin of these cocktails is subject to some debate, the general consensus is that the Buck cocktail definitely predates the Moscow Mule.
The Buck cocktail is believed to have originated in the late 19th century, with variations using different base spirits like gin, whiskey, or brandy.
It typically consists of a base spirit, ginger ale or ginger beer, and a squeeze of citrus juice (most often lime). The combination of the spirit, ginger beer, and citrus creates a refreshing and effervescent drink.
The Buck vs. Mule cocktail
The Moscow Mule, on the other hand, emerged in the mid-20th century. It is attributed to a collaboration between John G. Martin, an American spirits distributor, and Rudolph Kunett, a Russian immigrant who owned a struggling ginger beer company.
They joined forces and mixed vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice in a copper mug to create the Moscow Mule. The drink gained popularity and became synonymous with the distinctive copper vessel in which it was served.
So while the Buck cocktail concept (spirits, ginger beer, and lime) predates the Moscow Mule, the specific combination of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice in the Moscow Mule is a more recent development.
The Moscow Mule played a significant role in popularizing the Buck cocktail family and (also the consumption of vodka!) in the United States.
What is cachaça?
Ok, now that we understand the whole Buck/Mule cocktail background, let’s get into why it’s so good with cachaça!
Cachaça is a Brazilian distilled spirit that is closely associated with the country’s culture and traditional cocktail, the Caipirinha.
It is made from fermented sugarcane juice and is often considered Brazil’s national spirit. Because it’s made with sugarcane, it’s frequently thought of as a sub-category of rum, but it’s a bit different.
How it’s made
Cachaça is produced by fermenting and distilling fresh sugarcane juice. In this way, it differs from rum, which is typically made from molasses or sugarcane by-products.
Cachaça can be classified into two types: “industrial” cachaça, which undergoes column distillation, and “artisanal” cachaça, which is often distilled in copper stills and aged in wooden barrels.
What cachaça tastes like
The flavor of cachaça can vary depending on the specific production methods and aging process. Generally, cachaça has a unique and robust flavor profile.
It can exhibit fruity, grassy, and floral notes with hints of tropical fruits, citrus, and earthy elements. Some varieties may also showcase subtle vanilla, caramel, or woody characteristics, if aged in barrels.
It packs a punch
Cachaça typically has a higher alcohol content, ranging from 38% to 48% ABV (alcohol by volume). It can possess a noticeable acidity that adds a certain vibrancy and liveliness to the flavor profile. This acidity, combined with its complex flavors, make cachaça an excellent base for cocktails with citrus or spice.
Ingredients for a Brazilian Buck
To make the cocktail, you’ll need a copper mug (or tall glass), plenty of ice, and three primary ingredients:
- Quality ginger beer
It’s also great to have fresh mint on hand, for garnishing. Although this isn’t a requirement, it adds so much freshness to the finished drink.
As always, be sure to use fresh lime juice – it makes all the difference. Cut a lime in half, then squeeze half of the lime’s juice into the copper mug or glass. Cut the other half into wedges and use one as a garnish.
We’re lucky that today there are so many quality ginger beers to choose from. I always stock Fever-Tree ginger beer, ginger ale, and light ginger beer because their flavor can’t be beat.
However, I’ve also enjoyed the ginger beer from Betty Buzz and if you want a very tropical feel, go with Reed’s (it’s made with honey and pineapple!) Q Mixers makes some great ginger beers if you like them nice and spicy, with their addition of cayenne.
Which cachaca to choose
There are several popular cachaça brands that are readily available in the United States. Here are some well-known cachaça brands that you can find:
Leblon is a premium cachaça brand known for its smooth and versatile spirit. It is produced in Brazil using high-quality sugarcane and is aged in French oak barrels to develop a refined flavor profile. This is the cachaça I’ve used here.
Novo Fogo is an artisanal cachaça brand that focuses on sustainable production methods. Their cachaça is made from organic sugarcane and undergoes small-batch copper pot distillation. They offer a range of expressions, including aged cachaças and unique barrel finishes.
Avuá produces artisanal cachaça using traditional methods. Their cachaça is crafted in small batches and aged in a variety of wood barrels, resulting in distinct flavor profiles. Avuá offers aged expressions as well as unique editions like their Amburana-aged cachaça.
Sagatiba is a well-known cachaça brand recognized for its quality and versatility. They offer both unaged and aged cachaças, with the aged expressions being matured in American white oak barrels.
Ypióca is one of the oldest and most traditional cachaça brands in Brazil. They produce a range of cachaças, including aged expressions with various wood cask finishes.
Cachaça 51 is a popular brand that offers a more affordable and widely available option. It is known for its approachable flavor profile and is often used as a base in cocktails.
How to make the cocktail
Making the Brazilian Buck is very simple and it’s even easier than mixing up Caipirinhas! Here’s the step-by-step process:
- Fill a copper mug or highball glass with ice
- Pour 2 ounces of cachaça over the ice
- Squeeze half a lime into the mug (about half an ounce of juice)
- Top with chilled premium ginger beer
- Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh mint
That’s it! This drink is easy, fun, and something a little different than the typical Moscow Mule or Rum & Coke. Find more easy cocktails that are great for summer in my Guide to Easy Rum Mixed Drinks!
You might also enjoy my Cosmopolita – a fresh and fruity Cosmopolitan made so much more interesting with cachaça in place of vodka!
Brazilian Buck (Easy Cachaça Cocktail) Recipe
- 2 oz cachaça I used Leblon
- ½ oz lime juice freshly squeezed
- 6-8 oz premium ginger beer such as Fever-Tree
- Fill a copper mule mug or highball glass with ice.
- Pour the cachaça and lime juice over the ice, then top with chilled ginger beer.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.